Of all the classic G.I. Joes, Tunnel Rat has to be one of the most unorthodox. He’s portrayed as an unpredictable rookie in the 1986 animated G.I. Joe movie, is physically the shortest of all the Joes, has a facial design inspired by the face of G.I. Joe visionary Larry Hama, and sometimes likes to eat bugs. And I love it. Tunnel Rat is probably my single favorite Joe across all iterations (yes, even Sigma 6). So when I heard he was getting a Renegades toy, I pre-ordered immediately, even though I’ve never seen an episode of the cartoon and had no idea if his design or toy were even going to be worthwhile. Loyalty pays off, as Tunnel Rat himself is very good–and his accessories are even better. If you’ve ever wanted a frying pan for your 4″ figures to hit each other on the head with, now’s your chance…
As with Lifeline, I want to start with Tunnel Rat’s accessories. One area where these 2012 G.I. Joes are absolutely excelling is the included accessories department. I like Tunnel Rat as a quirky, unconventional Joe, and his swag reflects that beautifully. Whereas the 30th Anniversary Lifeline action figure I reviewed over the weekend came with the widest variety of medical accessories to every come with a G.I. Joe, Tunnel Rat comes with a cornucopia of random and zany accessories. Tunnel Rat’s accessories include a revolve, robotic bomb defusion device with controller, phone, shovel, survival pack, heavy assault rifle, lantern, shovel, flashlight, and removable bandana. He also includes one of the ever-useful figure stands that the Marvel Universe line has forsaken.
The largest and most complex of the accessories is the robotic bomb defusion device. It has six real rolling wheels, a fully-movable bomb defusion crane, and a pair of connected antennae at the rear. Tunnel Rat has a great remote he can hold to control the bomb defusion device from a safe distance. It’s really a clever and fun idea, and also one I don’t remember ever seeing in G.I. Joe lore before. Clearly the Joes have come a long way since the days of Tripwire, who had to sweep for mines from a foot away from them.
Tunnel Rat can literally dig his way to China using his included shovel, lantern and flashlight. And he can even stop to cook up dinner with his trust frying pan along the way! Hell, if Tunnel Rat gets bored, he’s even got his own laptop to cruise the Internet with. Tunnel Rat is one lucky dude. I’m pretty sure this is the first time we’ve ever seen Joes with a shovel or frying pan (if not the other items), but they’re all most welcome additions and I expect they’ll be useful for all kinds of dioramas with other 4″ figures like Marvel and Star Wars.
Now to talk about Tunnel Rat himself: He’s great! The straps-down overalls are rather stylish, and I love his cargo-esque pants and green boots. He’s covered in pouches (as he’d need to be to carry all his stuff), and he includes a removable backpack, a feature I seriously miss in modern Joes that don’t include them. Instead of his traditional neckerchief, Tunnel Rat comes wearing a bandana, which you can position around his neck however you want. On most Joes I think the bandana would look silly, but Tunnel Rat is one of an elite few that can actually pull off the look.
The facial sculpt is the most Asian-looking of the dozen-plus Tunnel Rat figures Hasbro has produced over the last few decades, and that makes sense since Tunnel Rat is, well… Asian. I like the head sculpt a lot, and I appreciate that it walks the line between being a realistic head and a stylized Renegades head so that you can display Tunnel Rat wherever you see fit. Moreover, the whole figure looks good enough to display with your 25th and 30th Anniversary Joes, though the styling of his outfit is clearly anime-inspired.
Tunnel Rat’s articulation is the well-articulated norm for a G.I. Joe these days and includes 20 points: Ball-jointed head, ball-jointed shoulders, double-jointed elbows, double-jointed knees, upper torso, ball-jointed hips, double-jointed ankles and swivel wrists. This is almost all of the articulation that you could ask for, and is more than enough to get Lifeline into most poses.
Considering that Tunnel Rat includes a figurative crapload of accessories, you’d think Hasbro would have given him someplace to store them. Unfortunately, unlike every other Joe I’ve reviewed lately, Tunnel Rat has zero weapons storage capabilities. You can plug in his backpack, but that’s it. While Renegades Law has two pistol holsters and even the pacifistic Lifeline is packing a knife holster and pistol holster, Tunnel Rat is totally unprepared for battle. Tunnel Rat really does look slick, but I can’t help but feel that Hasbro could have found some way to snap some of his multitude of accessories onto his self.
I’m also disappointed that like most of the other Joes I’ve reviewed lately such as Lifeline and Sci-Fi, Tunnel Rat has no swivel waist. Renegades Law from the same wave has waist articulation, and is a better figure for it, so I don’t see why Hasbro didn’t grace the other Joes with it as well. The lack of swivel waist hinders Tunnel Rat’s posing potential just enough for it to really annoy me by inhibiting poses he can almost pull off.
Also, Renegades Tunnel Rat is the exact same height as the other figures I bought in this wave. Maybe that’s how he’s depicted in the Renegades cartoon, but I don’t like it. I can’t even begin to imagine where Hasbro is going to use this very unique mold again, so they might as well have made it shorter.
Renegades Tunnel Rat is part of both the third and fourth 2012 wave of G.I. Joes, so he’s shipping in a couple cases. That said, I’ve never seen one at retail yet myself. There are a variety of online options:
BigBadToyStore stocks virtually every G.I. Joe released each year, and have cases of 12 containing Law & Order, Sci-Fi, Lifeline, Zombie Vipers and so forth for $84.99 as well as Renegades Tunnel Rat available for a ridiculously cheap $4.00 individually.
Amazon has Renegades Tunnel Rat in-stock right now from various sellers, but prices and availability change rapidly on Amazon so you’ll need to click through for the current specifics.
Overall: This is one of the most different iterations of Tunnel Rat that we’ve ever been treated to, and frankly, I love it. He’s slightly stylized, but not enough so to disrupt a traditional Joe display with his inclusion.This look for Tunnel Rat is unique and fresh after getting virtually the same outfit rehashed for every Tunnel Rat for the last 25 years. If I had to summarize this figure in one word, it’d be “fun”. This Tunnel Rat is fun to pose, fun to play with, and loaded with fun accessories. I’m not real thrilled with the scale, lack of swivel waist that Renegades Law has, and his non-existent accessory storage capabilities, but those are minor nitpicks. Renegades Tunnel Rat is one of my favorite G.I. Joe figures I’ve bought since the wildly inventive Sigma 6 line half a decade ago, and easily earns a high recommendation.